Reporter turned congressional candidate Alan Cohn declines to answer tough questions on campaign “salary”

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As a former investigative reporter, Democratic congressional candidate Alan Cohn should know better.

Cohn, who includes “speaking truth to power” and “uncovering wrongdoing” as qualifications to represent Florida’s 15th Congressional District, seems to shy away when asked the tough questions.

WTSP/10 Investigates wanted to ask Cohn about potentially profiting off campaign contributions, only to be repeatedly declined interviews.

In the race against two-term Republican Congressman Dennis Ross, Cohn produced several ads and flyers hitting Ross on profiting from campaign donations, an issue 10 Investigates uncovered last year.

Several campaign expenditures benefited Ross personally, notes WTSP reporter Noah Pransky, including payments to his chief fundraiser – his wife.

Ross had agreed to an interview, to explain the necessity of the expenses for fundraising.

Although he was critical of personal profits from campaign donations, in July, Pransky noted that Cohn started paying himself through his campaign account, an unusual move for Congressional candidates.

Cohn took bi-monthly payments of $2,197 each, equaling about $53,000 a year.

When 10 Investigates asked Cohn for a meeting, he deflected all questions to his campaign manager, who then declined to interview.

“I don’t see any daylight in Alan’s schedule,” said Jonathan Colmenares, Cohn’s campaign manager, in an email to WTSP. “It’s just a really packed time being so close to Election Day. We’ve had the closing weeks scheduled out for weeks now.”

Colmenares admitted he did not know how Cohn estimated the salary figure, but said he will cease payments on Nov. 4.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.